“Tempers Fuggit. Means that was then and this is now.” – Nanny Ogg
“Hey! Hey, kid, wake
Sam turned over in his
sleep. “Piss off.”
“You gonna kiss your
girl with that mouth? Get up!”
Sam opened his eyes.
The raven glared at him.
“You bet your tailfeathers it’s me.” She hopped through the open window
and began tugging Sam’s bedcovers with her beak. “Get up, you’ve got to
get yourself down to the University!”
Sam sat up in bed as the
realisation hit him. “She’s back? Gytha?”
“Well, I dunno.” The
raven backed off and preened. “I heard it on the Tower this morning; Rincewind
and Ponder are back, and they brought the girl. Now, you planning to get up or
Sam didn’t answer. He
was too busy leaping out of bed and making a grab for his clothes. Wisely, the
raven slipped back through the window, flew down to street level and as Sam came
catapulting through the front door, she soared. Within seconds, they were flying
down towards the Ankh, knocking people right and left. Within minutes, boy and
bird were on the straight and narrow path towards the University.
* * *
As the Librarian knuckled
across the floor on his way to the Library, he could hear voices emanating from
within. One was male and one female, but one was muffled and reassuring; only
the girl’s voice was clearly audible:
“I do want to, I do!
What? No! No, I can’t do that! He’s Commander Vimes’ son! Yes, of course
it matters!” The sound of a stamping foot. “He’s the son of a duke, and
I’m only… I’m only… well, yeah, I wish that too. Oh, you’re no
The Librarian pushed open
the door. “Ook.”
Gytha leapt up, eyes
shining. “Really? Is he really? Oh…”
She ran towards the door,
stopped, hesitated, came running back and skidded to a halt in front of the
Librarian, who obligingly held up a mirror. She stared at it for a moment, ran
her fingers roughly through her hair, yelled, “Thank you!” and went
catapulting through the door.
Silence descended like a
thunderbolt after her departure. Ponder looked up and sighed. “Young love,”
he said morosely.
said the Librarian wisely, and offered him a banana. Ponder declined, and the
orang-utan shrugged and shambled off between the shelves, stuffing the banana
into his own mouth as he went. No
sense wasting it, after all.
Ponder sighed again and
walked slowly and delicately towards the gap in the shelves below the dome. Hex
was still lying where he had left it. While still using it with gusto, the
students apparently hadn’t dared move it to the HEM without his say-so. The
thought cheered him up slightly as he sat heavily on the floor next to it,
leaning against a shelf.
It was still much too
early in the morning for any of the other wizards to be awake, with the
exception of Ridcully, who was no doubt off on a five-mile morning run, but
after a moment, Ponder realised he wasn’t alone. Adrian Turnipseed was still
curled up at the base of the thinking engine, snoring lightly. “Good morning
to you, too,” Ponder told him.
Adrian jerked in his
sleep, but his eyes didn’t open. Ponder glanced at him. “Well, I’m
back,” he said. “Bet you didn’t notice I was gone.” He paused. “No, of
course you didn’t. Never mind.”
He stretched out fully,
leaning his head back. He was tired. “You know,” he said dreamily, “I have
a family. I know I had one already…”
He really was tired. He
stifled a yawn before continuing. “My… well, I suppose she was my mother.
Yes, she was!” This was said with sudden emphasis. “She was. She brought me
up, she looked after me, she made sure I was able to become a wizard.”
He sighed deeply. “And
after all that, she wasn’t my mother. I knew that; I didn’t know I had
family other than her. I have a father. And my father has family, and they
have family, and they’re all my family, too.”
Adrian shifted in his
sleep. Ponder’s voice, gentle as it was, was bringing him closer to
consciousness. Ponder smiled. “Do you remember – in fact, I know you
remember – years ago, the Watch found a stranger from another world? I met him
and I thought he was strange and he thought I was, and now it turns out he was
one of my grandfather’s dearest friends.”
Adrian rolled over;
Ponder steadied him with one hand to prevent him from rolling over Hex’s
mouse. “And you know, I’ve been to another world. All I’ve got to show for
it is something my father gave me.” He sighed. “And it’s a rock. A rock,
that I have to throw in the Ankh.” He withdrew it from his robes as he spoke,
and held it up to the light. The rough stone felt warm in his hands, belying its
Ponder stood up suddenly.
“And you know what else?” he demanded. Adrian was still definitely asleep.
“I’m going out now, and I’m going to throw this rock into the Ankh.
Because I can. Because I was born here. Because I’ve lived all my life
in Ankh-Morpork, and that means I can do something that my father’s asked me
He moved. As Adrian
settled back into deeper unconsciousness, Ponder made his way swiftly to the
door of the Library and was gone, heading out towards the scholars’ entrance.
From behind a nearby
shelf, a small voice muttered, “Ook.”
said another, female voice. “He did the right thing, coming back here. He
couldn’t have stayed with Harry and Draco."
The Librarian inclined
his head. “Ook?”
“No, I mean it,”
Hermione insisted. “He belongs here and he knows it. Although…” She paused
and sighed. “He’s a lovely boy. Just what I’d have expected Harry’s son
to be like.”
“Of course I will. Not
immediately – give it a few months, I think.” She smiled. “It’s not long
till Harry’s birthday. I’ll come and get him then, if you don’t
Now, I ought to be going – thank you again!” She laughed and turned around.
The Librarian watched as she picked her way through the shelves, getting more
and more distant until she disappeared altogether.
* * *
Commander Samuel Vimes
had spent most of his working life in the Night Watch, and the effect of twenty
years’ working only in hours of darkness had still not worn off. He was never
at his best at nine o’clock in the morning, staring bleary-eyed at breakfast
and picking at the bacon.
However, it was only
about ten minutes before he realised what, or who, was missing. “Sybil?
Lady Sybil smiled.
“He’s gone out for a while,” she said, and turned away so her husband
wouldn’t see her expression. That morning at eight-thirty sharp, she had gone
up to Sam’s room to find a wide-open window, rumpled bedclothes and a hastily
scrawled note on the pillow. Carefully adopting a poker-face, she turned back to
Vimes. “I wouldn’t expect him back soon,” she said evenly, and smiled
again as Vimes blinked and went back to the bacon.
Later, just as Vimes
reached Pseudopolis Yard to hear a report from Nobby about a University wizard
accused of littering, Gytha and Sam came to an unwilling halt at the great
wrought iron gates of Unseen University. “I’m sorry,” said Gytha
regretfully, “but I really have to get back. It’s been a busy few days.”
“That’s all right,”
said Sam, starry-eyed and currently of the opinion that everything, in this
world and any other, was considerably better than all right. In a dreamy
haze, he leaned forwards and kissed her lightly on the lips.
She blushed prettily.
“I’ll see you soon?”
“Of course,” he
promised. “How’s tomorrow?”
smiled, leaned forwards and quickly kissed him back before running for it,
ducking through the hole in the wall and scampering across the grounds.
Sam proceeded to make his
way home, merely blinking as a hoarse voice called out, “Nice going, kid!”
and not quite conscious that his feet weren’t quite touching the ground. Lady
Sybil met him just as he was letting himself into the house, and wisely said
nothing as he floated upstairs.
* * *
Gytha wanted nothing more
than to sleep, take a bath and write a very excited, incoherent letter to her
mother, in that order, but there was one thing she had to do first. Following
the muddy footprints, she made her way into the Library. Ponder was lying on the
floor next to Hex, curled up with his arms underneath his head. With eyes closed
and lips slightly parted, he was fast asleep.
Gytha glanced around and
saw that, appropriately, Hex appeared to have acquired a large red pillow as
part of its internal workings. She yanked it without a second thought – some
things were more important – and gently pushed it beneath Ponder’s head. She
stood back, saw he was sleeping more easily, but wasn’t quite satisfied. She
took a few steps along a nearby shelf, scanning the floor, and after a few
moments found what she was looking for. She lifted it. The smooth,
sweet-smelling applewood was warm in her hands, and she took a moment to feel
the raw power of it, running like delicate electricity through the length of the
staff, making her feel for a few precious moments as though she were really
possessed of the power, ancient and timeless, breaking up the lines of the
world, this world, all worlds, magic.
And suddenly, she was
standing in the calm, sunlit quiet of the Library, and she was holding an
applewood staff that did not belong to her. Pushing her hair out of her eyes,
she leant down and placed it within reach of Ponder’s limp fingers.
And then she left, moving quickly and quietly through the pools of sunlight, the books, the silence, back to the real world.
 This path is entirely literal. One does not normally attend UU by following a metaphorically straight and narrow way.
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